Friday, August 18, 2000

Ask a stupid question


Doctors do swear to 'do no harm'

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Question: Do physicians taking the Hippocratic Oath really swear that they will “first do no harm,” as I'm always hearing on TV? I can find no support for this in reference books.

Answer: Keep looking, says Russell Dean, executive director of the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine, because it is in there.

        “All physicians take the Oath upon graduation from medical school, and contained in it is the line to "first do no harm.' There are variations in the Oath, but the core is always the same, and "do no harm' has been part of that core for decades, if not centuries.”

        The Oath you see on TV is abbreviated, Mr. Dean says, because in its entirety, the Oath is “very long and very archaic. It's not easy reading or listening.”

        The Oath, considered a “a living statement of principles for physicians to live by,” is descended from Greece's golden age. It was Christianized in the 10th or 11th century to eliminate pagan gods, but other than that has remained pretty much the same since Hippocrates was yanking tonsils.

        If you have a stupid question, send it to Ask a Stupid Question, Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax: 768-8330.

       



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